Elliott Smith, Elvis Costello and Misery

I’m a huge Elliott Smith fan (seen him 4 times, have his albums, some 7″ singles) a reasonable Elvis Costello fan (I have a number of cassettes heh 80s 90s CDs too and yet to see/hear him live) and I am no fan of, yet not a complete stranger to misery. A lot of music obsessives seem to pride themselves on knowing who played on which album and then went on to perform with whom. It’s a fun exercise (especially with jazz) like mixing chemicals. Another exercise is imagining an artists influences. These are creations which fill the gaps unanswered questions leave behind… huh? Well, I tend to try to suppose/imagine how someone might feel given their particular circumstance in life or what might prompt someone to make something at a given time. So I’m going to attempt to draw some conclusions based on common questions…how did someone write a particular song, what were their influences, can we unspin the magic and figure out how it was done? I’m going to do some creative sleuthing here, follow me won’t you?

Elliott wrote “Miss Misery” ….well I don’t know when but in 1997 the tune launched Elliott into the worldwide spotlight when it was used in the film, Good Will Hunting, and was up for an Oscar, best original song…I think they won best screenplay? Here’s that performance:  

Anyway it’s a great song.  Where’s the connection Lynch? Alright, so in 1996 during a soundcheck Elliott played ‘Last Boat Leaving’ from Elvis Costello’s album Spike, 1989…  

…which made me wonder how influenced was he by Elvis? On, “Blood & Chocolate”, released in 1986 the tune, “Home Is Anywhere You Hang Your Head” begins with the line “Here comes Mister Misery he’s tearing out his hair again” here’s Nick Lowe singing it: 

Did Elliott get the germ of the notion for Miss Misery from Elvis? Here’s a lovely version of Elvis doing ‘Last Boat Leaving’ 

Good vibes and tunes to you all!! -p

p.s.: I forgot to add this one!!


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